Rust and Bone. 2012. France/Belgium. Directed by Jacques Audiard. In French; English subtitles. 120 min.
Ali (Matthias Schoenearts), a hapless single father and frequent street boxer, picks up an odd job as a bouncer at a hip nightclub, where he finds himself coming to the aid of Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard). This chance encounter unfurls into an intense, often tumultuous, friendship after Stéphanie is paralyzed from the waist down by a killer whale she trains at the local theme park. With rare intimacy and empathy, thanks mostly to Audiard's unflinching camera, this “muscular melodrama” (as A.O. Scott put it in his New York Times review) introduces an unlikely pair, thrust together by circumstance, who find a home in one another’s struggle.